Published under the Marvel Knight imprint from 2000 to 2001, Marvel Boy is written by Grant Morrison with art provided by Jg Jones, Dave Kemp, Matt Milla and Avalon Studio. It tells the story of a new Marvel Boy, Noh-Varr, only survivor of a crew of Kree from another dimension.
Noh-Varr, a youth in revolt, declares war on humanity. Aided by his own version of the Supreme Intelligence, Plex, he fights SHIELD, a sentient corporation and the evil Dr Midas and his daughter during the short 6 issue run.
Marvel Boy was bold and daring at the time, combining Morrison’s big ideas with a sense of anarchy and anger. Noh-Varr anti-authoritarian stance seems very much in line with the culture of today, although his acts of terrorism aren’t easy to enjoy in the wake of events in the latter half of 2001.
This can be seen as Morrison exploring the contrast between the optimism of Silver Age comics with the cynicism of our modern age of corporate greed. Nowhere is this clearer than in the opening pages of issue 1 where Captain Glory powers Epiphany Engines on pure belief and asks Ensign Marvel to believe in him. Seconds later their spaceship is shot out of the sky by the fantastically rich Dr Midas.
Cut off from the wonders of the multi-verse and trapped on a backward world Noh-Varr lashes out. Time again he is exposed to the corruption and decadence that money can bring. Only Plex offers any form of moral guidance.
Perhaps the biggest flaw is the lack of any likeable characters. Are we to side with Noh-Varr, even as he declares war on our species due to actions of a few. The closest relationship he forms with a human is with the insane daughter of Midas, who is still a cold-blooded killer by the end of the series.
Undoubtedly this is because this was intended to be an on-going story, with the final pages setting up the promised ‘Marvel Boy 2:001’. Sadly this never materialised and it would be nearly a decade before Marvel Boy was seen again.
This does make it great material to draw inspiration from. The following information contains Spoilers. My thanks to Mark Meredith and the Plot Points blog for providing the data file templates I have used.
Noh-Varr is not native to the Earth 616 universe. He was part of the 18th Kree Diplomatic Gestalt, his genes boosted with insect traits. He joined the crew of a dimensional-schooner ‘Marvel’, holding the rank of ensign.
The ship became lost and were in the process of navigating their way home when their ship was shot down. Noh-Varr was the only survivor and was promptly captured by Dr Midas, a man who used his wealth to collect alien beings. Escaping Noh-Varr reconnected with Marvel and its artificial intelligence, Plex. Using weapons from the ships armoury Noh-Varr waged his war against humanity.
The data file above reflects Noh-Varr during this 6 part series.
The Augmented Kree power set reflects those abilities that he innately possesses. His insect traits were compared to that of a cockroach, giving him enhanced durability and the ability to cling to walls.
Noh-Varr had incredible reaction speed, reflected in his high Godlike Reflexes. He was often depicted moving so quickly that there was often an after-image, as if light was trying to keep up with him. In one scene he was able to dodge a shot fired directly at him from a standing start. Combined with his Acrobatic Master specialty Noh-Varr is very hard to hit.
In dire situations Noh-Varr can enter the White Run. This meditative state blocks out all external stimuli, letting the body concern itself only on the task of running, increasing his speed. This is reflect by shutting down his Godlike Reflexes in exchange for boosting his speed.
His body was capable of redirecting pain stimuli, turning it into a pleasant music. Noh-Varr could still be hurt but he just wouldn’t feel it. This is reflected in his Redirect Pain SFX.
The Technical Marvel power set covers the advanced technology that Marvel Boy possessed. In Issue 1 it is revealed that Noh-Varr’s spit contains nano-bots that allow him to take control of a subject.
It appeared to do this by making the subjects perception were altered so they would be compelled to carry out Noh-Varr’s wishes. In this case the subject thought that it was his wife rather that Noh-Varr that was imprisoned and so helped him escape.
In the first indication that Noh-Varr didn’t value human life he promptly dug a finger nail into the man’s neck which exploded shortly afterwards. This particular power wasn’t used again but I felt this was a good close-ranged attack for him to use in desperate times.
Finally there is Plex. During the series Plex was usually in constant communication with Noh-Varr. Not only did he provide information and advice he allowed him access to the Omni-wave, which could act as a sensor or a wide range mind control device.
The Plex power can reflect all of these aspects, giving Marvel Boy a versatile tool kit at his disposal. Players may wish to make use of Plex and the Marvel ship to draw weapon resources from, such as the variety of devices that Noh-Varr uses in Issue 1.
For most of his run Noh-Varr is fighting, hence his expert Combat specialty. Due to his travels through multiple realities he has gained Cosmic Master, able to identify the nature of a Mindless One in issue 6 with little trouble.
His Mile Stones represent his crusade against humanity, encouraging actions that push that conflict forward. You can see that I’ve given the opportunity for Marvel Boy to have a change of heart, which is where I believe his story-arc would have eventually taken him.
Players wishing to explore a different aspect of his character are welcome to change these Motivations. This can develop his character in different directions as he pursues different goals.
Adventures featuring Marvel Boy could be based between issues of the original series. There is certainly room for events to occur between his first public appearance in Issue 2, the rise of the Brand Hex corporation and is eventual capture.
Adventures could pick up after Issue 6, just after Noh-Varr has been placed in the Cube. They could also occur several years later, perhaps with Marvel Boy carrying out missions to earn his release.
Marvel Boy could act as the central villain in an adventure. Certainly other heroes would see his actions as little more than terrorism. If Marvel Boy broke out of the Cube the Avengers or another group could be called in to aide in his recapture.
A dimensional schooner, home of Plex and base of operations for Marvel Boy. It was capable of travelling to other dimensions.
When travelling between realities multiple Earths were visible. The Marvel would collapse the wavebands, until there were only one reality.
Its flight was dependent on its Epiphany Engine nacelles. Engines could loose faith and shutdown. When this happened to Nacelle one it was jettisoned. Either this was to reduce weight or because the lack of faith could affect other nacelles. The crew could enter the Engine to power the nacelle, using their faith and faith placed in them to power the ship.
The fuel source was Cosmic Rays, the kind that gave the Fantastic Four their powers. Long term exposure could be lethal, although those who already had some experience with Cosmic Rays could survive for a time.
The intensity of the Cosmic Rays could bestow powers upon those who entered their range of influence with minutes. Dr Midas was transformed into Cosmic Man, displaying the combined powers of the Fantastic Four.
This could be a universal effect or something that is only native to humans. Other species might display different powers when exposed to this level of Cosmic Rays. There is always the potential that the subject may explode.
By drawing upon electrical energy (from both machines and organic beings) the Marvel could make short Telephase jumps, letting it teleport to safety. In issue 1 the Marvel teleports from New Jersey to New York.
The outer hull of the ship was covered in sensorskin. Shields were needed to prevent friction from destroying this layer. It can be assumed that the sensorskin was vital part of the sensor systems and aided in the piloting of the ship.
The Plex was an organic computer, combing the minds of countless Kree. This database could be drawn upon for advice and information, with different factions able to offer different points of views and opinions. Crew could meld with the Plex via the ships central cortex. In high stress situations data could freeze, which would prove disastrous for anyone still within the cortex.
In an emergency the Plex was capable of taking control of the ship. It had access to the ships functions. This included the tiny Helicoptera, drones with razor sharp blades that could act as security.
There is no indication that the Marvel is unique in creation. If the PCs don’t encounter the Marvel they may find a ship of the same construction from its native dimension. It would provide a good craft for any group of heroes used to dealing with alien technology and needing to act in secrecy.
In Issue 1 the Marvel is in crisis, caught in a dimensional flume. Their sensors indicate that someone was manually diverting the Cosmic stream. It is unknown whether this was Dr Midas or an undisclosed third party.
Either way it is significant both that such technology exists (if it was technology) and that someone possesses. it. This could serve as the inspiration for an adventure or a reason why heroes capable of dimensional travelling are taken off course.
MARVEL BOY’S KREE
Issue 5 and 6 give us further insight into the world that Noh-Varr came from. On the home world of Hala Terrigen Rains mutate the wild life. The super powered Kree then trawl through the resulting sea of monsters looking for desirable genetic traits that can be harvested. This is presumably how Kree gain their augmented abilities.
Under the guidance of the vast We-Plex Intelligence the Kree not only expanded across the universe but other realities. No gateways were closed to the Kree. Their expansion was fuelled by the belief that Kree Way was superior.
A SHIELD operative tasked with decoding the Kree data files says that the closest translation of their philosophy is Zen Fascism. This suggests that their rule wasn’t exactly benevolent.
Noh-Varr states that his crew negotiated a Kree/Skrull ceasefire but how much of this was due to diplomacy and how much was through the Skrull realising that they couldn’t defeat the Kree in combat?
This Kree empire still exists somewhere in the countless dimensions. One day they may discover Earth 616 and decide to conquer it. This would be a good starting point for a Cosmic Event, with the other space empires forced to pick sides. Who would Marvel Boy side with in such a conflict?
Hala could act as a fascinating setting for a new superhero group. All of the PCs would have received their powers from augmentation, alien technology and exposure to Cosmic Rays.
Can they face the challenge of the sea of monster? Could they convince a world that the Kree way is superior? What new gateways would they open?
Over time they may become disillusioned and, like Captain Marvel, turn against their own people. Instead of protecting only a single world they now have all of reality to defend from the influence of the Kree.
The 616 Kree may learn of Marvel Boy and his origins and become intrigued. They could approach him to learn the secret of his people. This could lead to the Kree adopting this Zen Fascism and attempting to destroy their enemies.
Would Marvel Boy help them? Would a team of heroes have to prevent the Kree from making contact with Marvel Boy? This could result in them chasing after Kree to prevent them bring the information they’ve learnt back to their home world.
Anyone with access to Terrigen gas might attempt the same genetic harvesting technique. This could be done in secret or unleashed upon the public. Heroes could be alerted to rain mutating members of the public. Their first job would be to disperse the gas and contain the now monstrous population.
The villain can reveal his hand when he sends agents to harvest genetic material from the population. The heroes could then protect them and track down the villain before he unleashes another burst of Terrigen rain.
ASTRO-GODS AND THE HYPOVERSES
Marvel Boy relates how his crew responded to five distress calls from doomed civilisations. They found the cause were three Astro-gods. Noh-Varr says there were ‘only’ three suggesting they usually travel in larger groups.
It would seem that the Astro-gods are on a higher scale than even Galactus or the Celestials. This makes them a fearsome force to be reckoned with.
They originate from The First Firmament. There isn’t much detail about what this actually is but the word firmament describes the concept of the sky as a barrier or dome. In the Bible the first firmament divides the water above (the source of rain) from our world.
Following this idea the First Firmament could describe a barrier between dimensions. The fact it is First Firmament could mean that it divides the original primal source of creation from all the realities that followed.
Using their equipment the Astro-gods explore the rest of the Hypoverse. They could be primal beings, continually travelling into new dimensions. How long before they finally reach Earth 616?
Unfortunately the Astro-god’s equipment is powered by gravity refraction and genocide on a massive scale. The five distress calls were sent because the Astro-gods were killing billions in order to fuel their equipment.
The dimensional schooner was caught in the wake of the Astro-gods and sent into the Macrospace. They were forced to travel in countless dimensions in the Superspectrum. We see only a handful of these worlds.
Along with the expected reality of evil counter-parts there is also a reality clearly modelled on that of Wild Storms ‘Authority’ and a universe composed of Impossible Men.
In Issue 1 the Unfinished Universe is mentioned. This reality is home to Kirby Machines, who allowed the crew of the Marvel to pass because Doc Wonder gave his life to save their reality.
The Unfinished Universe is possibly the most intriguing. What makes it unfinished? Is there a plan or design that it is supposed to follow? Was some entity in the process of making it before it could finish?
I suspect that the Kirby Machines, their name an obvious homage to Jack Kirby, are responsible for eventually completing their universe. What shape will it take and what happens when it is finished?
These universes are all waiting for a new group of heroes to explore. The existence of the Astro-gods sets up the potential for an epic dimensional spanning event with all of reality at stake.
Next we’ll look at some of the opponents that Marvel Boy faced and how his story might have continued.